James Augustine Enjoys Return To Illinois

The 2004-2005 Illinois Basketball team made a stellar run that led them to a 37-2 record and a National Championship Game berth. Four of the five starters returned to Illinois for the recent Alumni Game, including center James Augustine.

James Augustine, one of the top rebounders in Illinois Basketball history, made his first return to campus since his playing days for the Alumni Game. The return was a special occasion for him.

"It's good. It's the first time I've been back on the court since senior night. It was good to see everybody. It was a nice little get together and a nice game. It was good to be back."

Augustine was one of the younger players in the game. His conditioning is still at a high level, and he's a player who seems to mesh well with just about anyone.

"As far as physically, it wasn't much of an adjustment. It was nice to be out there with these guys again."

Early in the third period, Augustine got to run with teammates Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Roger Powell and Jack Ingram in a flashback to the 2004-2005 squad. It was apparent that, even after six years, the chemistry of that team still remained. But that can also be said for other Alumni.

"It was fun. I always hang out with Arch (Robert Archibald). I train with Arch in the summer time, and I see Lucas (Johnson) around. It's good to see those guys. We're a big family here, and no matter when you went to school here, we're all close. We always like to keep in touch."

Keeping track of fellow starters Brown and Williams has been a bit of a challenge, but Augustine contends distance is the only thing separating the former teammates.

"I try to (keep in touch). Deron's going overseas, so we might be a little closer now. It's good to see everybody, and it shows how tight the Illinois ‘fam' is."

Augustine has enjoyed a productive career overseas. His current venture has him playing in Europe.

"I'm in Spain. It'll be my fourth year there. I'm going to Mercia this year. It should be fun. I'm ready to go and have another year over there."

American players overseas often appreciate a familiar face on their team. Augustine is fortunate enough to have a fellow American from the Midwest joining him this season.

"They just signed an American from Notre Dame that's a good friend. I'm just excited to get back over there."

Augustine enjoyed reuniting with his former teammates, but the chance to meet some of the other past Illini stars was invaluable to him as well.

"It's great. The organization it took just to get all of these guys with their busy schedules. Everybody's playing or working. It's crazy how no matter what year you played, everyone still kind of molds in as a family, and nobody misses a beat."

Would he like to play another alumni game in the future?

"I think so. It's good to get everyone back. It would be nice to be a little cooler in here."

Augustine enjoyed a great college career. He took time to look back and recollect some of the memories.

"I miss it all. I miss the whole college experience. I loved being here, and I wouldn't have changed anything. As far as basketball, I had the best teammates. We had a great run at it."

Augustine still has a lot of basketball left to play. He has a good thing going now, and he hopes to keep that momentum moving forward.

"Hopefully stay overseas, keep playing and put together a nice career."

Many of the members from the 1989 squad were more than 20 years removed from their college careers. Does Augustine think he'll be able to play that long after college?

"I don't know about 20 years from now. Not sure if I'd be able to hold up as well as some of these other guys, so we'll see."

In the meantime, Augustine will continue to represent the Illini in Europe. Despite being thousands of miles away, it is clear Augustine will always consider the University of Illinois his home.

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